Many professional athletes hang on too long and need to be escorted out of the locker room door into the rest of their lives. Frankie DeAngelis figures the rest of his life is too good to wait on.
The Komets defenseman, 27, announced his retirement Friday morning. He's got a chance to use his business administration degree in the insurance industry near Toronto, and his longtime girlfriend just graduated law school.
``Hockey has been a part of my life since my parents put me on ice at 3 years old,'' DeAngelis said. ``It was a difficult decision to walk away from the game that you have been playing for your whole life, but I feel that is the best thing for me. Everything seemed to fall into place during the offseason, and I was given an opportunity in the business world that I couldn't turn down.''
Why did the decision take so long, with only 20 days until training camp opens?
``I was considering coming back and but this opportunity came up, and I felt it was the right time for me to walk away from the game,'' DeAngelis said. ``I told the Komets when this happened, and I wanted to take my time and make sure it was the right decision for me.''
During his three years with the Komets, DeAngelis was the team's most-decorated player from a league standpoint, earning all-rookie honors in 2010, playing in the Central Hockey League All-Star Game in 2011 and being named all-CHL at the end of last season. Besides being part of two championship teams, he was named the Komets' top defenseman the last two seasons and was a two-time finalist for the CHL's top defenseman.
An unheralded prospect out of American International College where he scored 35 points in 105 games, DeAngelis proved to be a top offensive pro defenseman, scoring 131 points in 213 regular-season games with a plus-54 rating. He was even better under playoff pressure, scoring 22 points in 38 postseason games with a plus-18 rating. He was always one of the team's most consistent and most productive players.
Last season he finished with career highs in 66 games, 18 goals and 46 points. He also scored four goals and 14 points in 18 playoff games.
``I can't say enough about the Komets organization,'' DeAngelis said. ``I want to thank the Frankes, Scott Sprout and the rest of the front office along with Al (Sims) and the rest of the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to play professional hockey. I was honored to be a part of the organization's winning tradition and honored to wear the Komets jersey every night in front of 10,000 of the best fans in minor hockey, and I thank them all for their support to myself and the team in the three years I played. I want to thank my teammates and the training staff for everything. It was a great feeling to lace up the skates with them everyday and be a part of two championship teams.''
Komets General Manager David Franke said this was the right decision for DeAngelis.
``I think at this point in his life he'd still love to play, but he's looking at the future,'' Franke said. ``The long-term future for him is not playing hockey. This is an excellent opportunity for him back home in the business world, and there was no way I would try to talk him out of it. We'll miss him in many ways both on and off the ice. He was one of our go-to guys in community work. His dad and his mom and sisters and girlfriend are all great people. You couldn't ask for a better family.''
DeAngelis' parents, Lou and Anna, also regularly attended Komets games, driving seven hours from their home in Woodbridge, Ontario, and rarely missed playoff games.
Finding offensive defensemen is usually the toughest roster hole to fill on a minor league hockey team, but Franke said he's not worried. He thinks the Komets may have some players signed who can fill the role, and a potential NHL lockout could provide more talented players.
``I'm working on some other players from other AHL or NHL teams,'' Franke said. ``Right now, I don't anticipate going out and signing an offensive-minded defenseman. I think what's going to be available will take care of that situation.
``When Frankie came here, none of us knew he would develop into the offensive player he became. That guy had to fight a little harder to get his foot into the door, and he developed his whole game, especially offensively. Why can't someone else come in and do the same thing?''